Eleven Burnaby boys would have made the late Jack Crosby proud, winning the bronze medal in Tier 1 at the 27th annual memorial all-star novice lacrosse tournament that bears his name.
The novice Lakers, fourth-place pool finishers in the advanced Tier 1 division, went one better than last season's finish, upsetting Port Coquitlam 7-4 in the bronze-medal final at Burnaby Lake Arena on Sunday.
Burnaby won the advanced Tier 1 division at the 2005 Crosby competition.
MVP all-star and Burnaby team captain Thomas Vela played well on both offence and defence for the Lakers.
Markus Klarich also had a strong game for Burnaby, scoring two back-to-back goals in the third period, while assisting on the 2-1 go-ahead marker by Anthony Vargas early in the middle frame.
Minutes later, Burnaby took a 3-1 lead on a great effort off successive rebounds by Daniel Milkovic right out in front of the goal.
Nathan Chua upped the score to 4-1 on a four-on-one break before PoCo took advantage of the Lakers tired legs and closed the deficit to a single goal just before the interval.
But, despite starting the final period on a five-minute penalty kill, a refreshed bunch of Lakers, led by goal scorer Julian Vargas, tallied the game-winning goal shorthanded in the fourth 44th minute on MVP all-star goalie Stuart Phillips.
But the Burnaby NOW hero of the game was at the opposite end of the floor in the uniform of first-year goalie Jackson Murphy-Johnson.
Murphy-Johnson, who had never played goal prior to this season, stopped numerous PoCo shots, including a breakaway attempt by Jordan Bahowrie midway through the second period.
PoCo came into the consolation final following a narrow 7-6 loss to eventual silver medallist Coquitlam Gold the night before.
On the other hand, Burnaby's short bench proved no match against the defending Crosby gold medallist, Oakville Hawks, coming into the bronze final as the underdog after losing 15-5 in the other semi.
"We lost to the team (PoCo) lost to by five or six goals, but we thought we had a chance," said Murphy-Johnson. "We just outplayed them."
And Burnaby did it with teamwork, despite having little more than two complete units to call on during the four-day competition.
"We have some really good goal scorers, but we had some goal scorers who scored some goals they don't normally do," Murphy-Johnson added.
The novice Lakers also had a backstopper who took it upon himself to step up when the team's regular goalie could not start the season.
"Before our first game I said to myself, 'I should be in goal' and the coach said I was good," said Murphy-Johnson.
In the gold-medal final at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre, Oakville won its second straight Crosby title, nearly doubling Coquitlam Gold 15-8.
All-star Ryan Brooks and Owen Sage both scored hat tricks and registered two assists in the title win for the Ontario visitors.
Kurt Cantello of Ridge Meadows, Luca Antongiovanni of Coquitlam and Austin Ducommun of New Westminster were also named Tier 1 MVP all-stars.
In Tier 2, Nanaimo got by Kamloops 5-3 in the gold-medal final, while Saanich took the bronze with an 11-2 victory over Ridge Meadows. Trey Dergousoff of Kamloops and Andrew Bowman of Nanaimo were named tournament all-stars for the Tier 2 finalists.
Joel McCormick of Ridge Meadows, goalie Jack Kask of Coquitlam Bronze, Kyle Pepper of Saanich and Ben Soenen of New West were also named all-stars.
Cowichan Valley won the Tier 3 title with a resounding 12-2 win over Surrey. North Shore took the bronze 5-2 over host Burnaby.
Matteo Fernandes of Burnaby joined Cowichan's Cameron Lumb and Devyn Zunti, and Dakota Rezansoff and Riley Evans of Surrey, and North Shore's Collin Jennings on the all-star team.